In Florida, there is a legal action called an Injunction for Protection against Stalking. Injunctions are also called orders for protection or stay away orders in other jurisdictions. Stalking is defined as whent an accused “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.” Harass means to “engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Obviously, any Petitioner (the person seeking the injunction) can claim that the alleged conduct caused substantial emotional distress. However, the Court’s do not just accept every person’s version of being emotionally distressed. The Court will measure the distress against the “reasonable person standard”. In other words, if the claimed emotional distress is itself an unreasonable reaction, then a stalking injunction will not be granted. Each case should be decided upon the totality of the circumstances.
In a recent case of workplace sexual advancement, the parties had been co-workers for nearly three years. The Petitioner alleged that the Respondent (Person accused) made frequent sexually-oriented comments, asked for help with errands outside of work, asked for rides, asked to meet for lunch and once was caught looking through phone messages. The Respondent denied having sexually harassed, admitting some interactions did occur but those that did happen were not intended in that way. The Petitioner testified that she had sought counseling and the help of a sexual harassment advocate as a result, and that she had twice reported the Respondent to management at work and the Respondent was eventually fired.
Even though the Petitioner ended up in counseling, the Court held that the incidents did not rise to the level of justifying a stalking injunction. The Court went on to point out that to justify this kind of injunction, the conduct must be bad enough to produce substantial emotional distress in a reasonable person. It is not enough to be weirded out or uncomfortable. According to the Court, the allegations fell short of the standards to justify a stalking injunction and the collateral consequences that flow from it. Unintended or unknown consequences of having a judgment of injunction are good reasons to defend injunctions and why there is an objective standard such as the reasonable person standard.
The firm represents people in injunctions, and other family or criminal matters. We will have to perform a conflict check before we can consult with either party in a civil case. While there are some community resources available to Petitioners, a lawyer will not be appointed to any Respondent because, these are civil cases (violating an injunction is criminal). Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer to help with a stalking injunction.
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